Saturday, December 31, 2011

iPass for expatriates: Finally we got our ID's!

Just wanted to update all of you that apart from getting our passports stamped with the Residents Pass, we recently received our ID cards which is called iPass. Unlike my old WORK PERMIT expat car which was gold color, this one is in PINK! Yes, pink! They issued ID cards for me, hubby and daughter. I spoke to one of the officer there and it seems they are doing some changes in the card issuance and the Resident Pass might be integrated into the Putrajaya Immigration soon (not sure under which group yet -- if it will be with the Work Permit issuance group or something else). Anyway, I was told that we are a lucky batch because they are not issuing the IDs according to first-come-first-serve... instead, it really depends which batch the Immigration decides to work on.  The ID card is important to my husband because he has been traveling in and out of Malaysia due to his work... and if he has the card it will mean easier travel (no need to fill up anything).

I thank the heavens for finally getting new cards. I heard from many expats with work permits that they were not able to get ID cards for 2 years now.... anyway let's hope 2012 will mean they start releasing more ID cards to foreigners like us!

Cameron Highlands: Cool climate and perfect for a family getaway!

We have been living in Malaysia for 5 years now and have visited a lot of places. As Christmas approached, we had to decide where to go for a fun holiday, keeping in mind we had to bring our 2-year old daughter, her visiting grandma and our maid. This year, we wanted to keep it simple and did not want to fly anywhere so our options were limited to where our car can bring us.

I am a “beach” person hence almost all our holidays were spent at places with sun, sea and sand. This time, hubby suggested that we go back to revisit Cameron Highlands. Honestly, I wasn’t too excited at first. My last 3 trips to Cameron Highlands were just “okay”, nothing really stood out that would compel me to go back again. I could recall only two highlights: spa session at Cameron Highlands Resort (which was super pricey) and the visit to the breathtaking Sungai Palas Boh Tea Plantation.

Hubby reminded me that in all those times we went up to Cameron, we were still “single without children”. Perhaps the visit this time will be interesting since we have our 2-year old daughter. Hmm, that got me thinking… and finally I agreed and started my search for the perfect place to stay.

My first choice was Cameron Highlands Resort as they offer a very attractive Local Residents Package. For expats living in Malaysia, this is really a superb offer, which includes 3 days, 2 nights stay plus all the meals. Unfortunately they were already fully booked! After hours of reading TripAdvisor and other blogs, I finally decided on Strawberry Park Resort, which I have never visited. The feedback from people who visited recently seemed to be promising, due to the renovation and upgrades that the hotel underwent not too long ago.

On Christmas day, we drove off to Cameron Highlands. It was a pleasant drive on our way there. Take note that you should opt for the new road called Simpang Pulai, as this is much safer. We took that road going to Cameron and coming back to KL.

The Strawberry Park Resort did not disappoint us. We took the Fresno 2-bedroom Suite, which was newly renovated (2-months old). It had a flat-screen TV, comfortable bed, wooden flooring and the best part was we had a superb view! I was happy with the decision we made in terms of accommodation. The package also included breakfast and dinner, which was a good deal!

Keeping in mind that we were with our daughter and her grandma, we decided to take it easy in terms of itinerary. We spent one whole afternoon at the Smokehouse hotel. We had our lunch there then spent some time enjoying the cool air amidst the beautiful flowers and greens. My daughter enjoyed running around their garden and even met a new Malay-Indian girlfriend as they played together. My mom and I sat at the garden playing Scrabble on the iPad. Time flew by quickly and we spent our afternoon with tea and scones at the same place. Definitely recommended to families who want to relax and enjoy good food and ambience. The place and the cool weather transports you to another place, making one forget that you are still in Malaysia!

Another thing we did differently was the visit to the tea plantation. My past trips always included the Sungai Palas Boh Tea Plantation and its picturesque views. However this time due to the peak season, hubby thinks it will be hell driving into that place because of the narrow roads. Instead, we visited the 2 Bharat Tea Plantations, which had easier access and equally nice views. We enjoyed some tea and scones there. And the highlight of that visit was the walk amidst the tea plantations… it was superb! Caution though, make sure you are wearing comfortable shoes. Hubby even carried our daughter on his shoulders as the trekked far and away into the wonderful green view.

The 3 days, 2 nights stay proved to be relaxing and perfect for those who are looking for a short getaway without having to take the plane. Your visit to Cameron Highlands will leave you feeling like you are not in Malaysia, thanks to the cool climate and beautiful views!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Cameron Highlands Big Red Strawberry Farm

As part of the stress-free holiday (we didn't want to fly out to another country), we opted for some cool air at Cameron Highlands. This is our 3rd time here since our arrival 5 years ago. This is the first time we came here with our 2-yr old daughter.

After long hours of research online, we opted for the Big Red Strawberry Farm. It had enough parking space, toilets and the highlight was they had some kids rides which were okay (rm .50 or rm1 per ride). They also had a cafeteria which served strawberry delights like juice, pancakes, floats, or plain strawberries with cream. We plan to also do some strawberry picking later which cost rm25/basket and one can pick as much strawberries as long as you fill it in the basket.

The food was reasonably priced and we indulged in some strawberry shakes. We were lucky to have sunny weather and coupled with the cool climate it really makes you forget you are in Malaysia!

It was packed with people because of the Xmas holiday season. We stayed at the Strawberry Park Resort which was a short drive away from this place.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Ice Cream and Car tow away at Mont Kiara

Yesterday, December 23, 2011 I walked to Baskin and Robbins at Jalan Kiara to order an ice cream cake for Xmas eve dinner. As I walked I noticed the DBKL towing cars on the side road near Baskin and Robins / Odyssey bus. They have been actively towing cars since 2-3 months ago. The good result of that is less congestion at Jalan Kiara since less people park on the streets. I just pity the owner whose car got towed because I was in their shoes awhile back, walking to your car and not finding it!!! What horror!

Lesson learned .. Always park at the right place else suffer the same fate :)

Wonder who owned that Myvi I saw yesterday... poor guy.

Speaking about Baskin and Robbins, their ICE CREAM CAKE is wonderful. It makes a beautiful gift. Not only that, it was the super star most well-loved thing at my daughter's birthday last month.... everyone loved it. On the average , if you buy an ice cream cake that will cover 8-12 person, it will cost you around RM100. I guarantee that the children (and adults) will love it. I always order the cake with a base flavor of Chocolate Chip. The photo below was from my daughter's birthday celebration last Nov 2011. The Ice Cream cake had different ice cream cones on top (which was 6 different flavors). The children were all eager to get the cones after blowing the cake! That ice cream cake cost about RM125++ if I remember correctly. I think I will always buy an ice cream cake for my daughter's birthday -- to continue an old tradition. Back in the Philippines when I was young, my parents always ordered an Ice Cream Cake (from Magnolia) to celebrate my birthday....  happy memories!

Friday, December 02, 2011

Coffee and Pancakes @ Antipodean: A Must Try at Bangsar!

It has been more than a month since I have been attending my French lessons at Alliance Francaise (satellite office in Bangsar). Since my classes start at 9am, hubby and myself always take some time (alone, without baby) to have our breakfast. There was a new coffee place opened months ago and I have seen so many good reviews about it... and I have been a loyal customer since the day I first visited.

The place is called ANTIPODEAN. It is a cafe opened by an expatriate. I saw some articles on the Expat magazine, and decided to search and see what the review are. Well, here is my own subjective review based on the several visits we have made.

The coffee is really good -- the taste is authentic, rich and well prepared. They design it well and I can see they take pride in the coffee they serve. I believe the owner sources it from Indonesia and they even sell the beans at their shop. Hubby and myself have been ordering their FLAT WHITE -- which taste really good. The plus side, they serve water (one gets thirsty if you drink too much coffee, and it is always good to have water afterwards to keep hydrated). They offer the water in a nice bottle, which also means you as a customer don't feel too "bothering" and keep asking for water. You can drink as much as you want.

The highlight for me is their BANANA PANCAKES with Butterscotch sauce. I could not help myself but to order that every single time we go to Antipodean. Their butterscotch sauce goes so well with the pancake... most often the sauce they serve is not enough... I would always request for 2 sauces (and they were kind enough to oblige).

Hubby was more adventurous and tried several breakfast dishes. They serve pork sausages & bacon (which is a highlight for expats and Malaysian Chinese who love their porky stuff). Hubby tried the croissant with scrambled eggs, at one point he also tried their big breakfast. To me it was all "okay" and tasty -- simply because I was all too satisfied with my pancakes too even bother with other stuff.

I always said I would go back to try their lunch menu but never had the chance yet.

Some highlights and lowlights....

1. They have a small place for children to play. I love that they thought about the kids!!! One time I brought my daughter there and she played for a while at that children's area. However, the place is small and there was a spotlight (which caused the small area to be too warm)

2. The toilet - it is nicely designed and clean. However, twice I experienced that the "flushing" mechanism was not working or the toilet was clogged. Hope they fix that because that was such a let-down for me especially after a good experience with their meals.

3. Service - their waitresses are friendly. However there were few new ones and I guess they were under training... so hopefully the newbies have settled down well already by now.

4. Parking - if you are having breakfast at 8 am - 9 am .. you are lucky because you can park right outside the cafe. That also means no need to pay the parking fees yet (or watch out for the police, though they don't wake up that early I guess on Saturdays????)

I noticed also that since they opened (Antipodean is located beside La Bodega).... the La Bodega seems to be emptier than what I remembered. My last breakfast at La Bodega was ages ago and the remembrance I had was that it was SOOOOO PRICEY and I mean pricey. For my husband and myself on a regular breakfast (before i had my baby) it cost us RM100 for 2 people. And true enough, it is still pricey today... The other day hubby and baby waited for me while I had my French class. Hubby moved to La Bodega because he wanted some space and move to a different place after his coffee in Antipodean (which i think cost less than RM10 for a coffee). He ordered only ONE ORANGE JUICE for my daughter. They didn't order anything else. The bill came -- it was RM17++ for one juice. Hmmm, that really made me realize how expensive they are. Or perhaps I feel the pinch simply because I am not working anymore (now I am a full time mother unlike months ago when I was still at Corporate!)

Anyway, I hope you guys enjoy your Antipodean experience when you try it out.

20, Jalan Telawi 2
59100, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Tel: +60322820411
Operation Hours

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Christmas is in the Air at Pavilion Mall

The nice thing about living in Kuala Lumpur is that when Christmas comes, all the shopping malls are well dolled-up for the occasion. Pavillion mall at Bukit Bintang is always one of the best decors so I decided to take December 1 as a kick-off to Xmas and literally shopped all day there. I was happy with the decors plus a pleasant surprise ... They had a carousel right in the middle! For rm5 they let Alexandra ride and she was astounded, her very first carousel ride. By today, December 1, many stores have began their sales which meant I went overboard on the shopping... And that is okay because I really stopped myself from any shopping activity as I waited for the Malaysia Year End Sale (Y.E.S.)

Parents who want some nice Xmas pictures of their kids would definitely love the decorations at Pavillion. They even had a lollipop lady walking around giving sweets :)

It was a nice way to kick off December!


Sent from my Windows Phone
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